MTSU Students To Establish Queer and Allied Fraternity
by Aundrea Cline-Thomas
MURFREESBORO, Tenn.-Fraternity and Sorority life is a big part of the college experience. A group of Middle Tennessee State University students are working to bring the first queer and allied friendly fraternity to campus.
"We have over 30,000 students," junior Justin Puckett explained. "Now is definitely time."
He says it's time to start a new "first" at MTSU.
"I knew the likelihood of me rushing for a traditional fraternity, a "traditional" fraternity likely wouldn't happen," openly gay senior Brandon Thomas said.
That's why Thomas and four other students are working to bring Sigma Phi Beta to campus. It's a fraternity that openly welcomes gay, bi-sexual and transgendered men.
"I really like the idea of just that life long commitment and having that brotherhood and support system you can go to for the rest of your life," senior Michael Finch who is a transgendered man said.
For now the University only has Lambda- an Lesbian Gay Bi-sexual and Transgendered student group that advocates, educates and raises awareness on campus.
"It's supposed to bring people together who would otherwise not associate with one another," Lambda faculty advisor Will Langston explained about the limitations of the organization.
"Lambda isn't Greek," Thomas said noting the differences. "We could say the same thing with black fraternities; we have the NAACP isn't that enough. No, no it's not."
The desire for that Greek experience is why five students took the extra step to pledge and be inducted by Indiana University chapter members of Sigma Phi Beta.
"When I was growing up we didn't have organizations like this that were out there in the open so it was a lot of dealing with this on my own," Puckett said. "But now we don't have to do that."
Now as full-fledged brothers they're hoping to bring that sense of belonging to more students. Especially those who are struggling to find where to fit in.
"We've seen in the past couple of weeks another teen committed suicide," Thomas said. "It's about that. It's trying to say there is a place, you know it can get better but we have to make it better. Sigma Phi Beta existing at MTSU can make it better."
The students hope to get more support for the fraternity and become more involved on campus.
A student board will ultimately determine if the fraternity will be officially recognized by the University.